NameWilliam MacCrystyn (Christian)
Birth14 Apr 1608, Isle of Man, England
Death2 Jan 1663, Hango Hill, Castletown, Isle of Mann, Great Britain
FatherEwan MacCrystyn (Christian) (~1578-1655)
Misc. Notes
His nickname, Iliam Dhone, means "Brown William". He was a patriot-martyr for the Isle of Man, celebrated in ballads and mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's 'Peveril of the Peak'.

Executed by firing squad under an illegal order of the Governor of the Isle of Man. The order was overruled by King Charles II, but too late as William had already been executed.

The following was extracted from the book 'Manx Worthies' by A. W. Moore (1901):

Popularly known as 'Illiam Dhone', (Brown William), he was the son of Deemster Ewan Christian of Milntown. Nothing is known of his early life. He was a steward of the Abbey Lands in 1640 and a member of the House of Keys (Manx Parliament) in 1643. In the same year his farther presented him with the property of Ronaldsway, which
he agreed to hold from the Earl of Derby on a lease for three lives instead of by the old straw tenure. He and his
family were consequently received into favour, and he was appointed to the then high office of 'receiver'.

William Christian must have thoroughly gained the earls confidence, since, when Lord Derby left the Island in August
1651 to join the Royalist forces, he not only put him in command of the insular militia, but committed his countess,
the famous Charlotte de la Tremoille, to his care. It is exceedingly difficult to ascertain precisely what part William
Christian played in the subsequent transactions, since the only statements that remain are conflicting and obscure. We
know that the countess, on hearing that her husband was a prisoner, made proposals to Parliament for the surrender
of the Isle of Man in the hope of saving his life. It is known also that William Christian and some of the most
influential Manxmen suspected she had done so, and they then excited their countrymen against her by declaring that
the countess intended to save herself by sacrificing them.

This being so, it is of no surprise to learn that on the night on which the bearer of these proposals sailed, insular
militia, under William Christian's command, rose and attempted to seize all the forts, but failed to take Rushen and
Peel. Burton, Governor Musgrove's biographer, remarked that they plundered the earl's property and ill used all the
English that fell into their hands. This statement, however, is uncorroborated. Musgrave demanded an explanation of
the rising from Christian who replied that it was to procure the redress of certain grievance; and he added that the
countess had sold the country into the hands of the Parliament. These grievances are known to have been connected
with the 7th earl's action in depriving the people of their old system of land tenure, and there were also complaints of
the free quarterage of troops upon them.

It is said that an agreement was then entered into between William Christian and the governor to defend the Isle of
Man until satisfactory terms could be obtained, but, as both parties were negotiating with the Parliament, whose
troops were now mustering for its capture, the agreement was, in reality, a mere pretence for the sake of gaining time.
These troops arrived on the 20th October, but, being delayed by storms they did not land until the 28th. They had
been assured by William Christian that they would not be opposed by the soldiers under his command.

On the 3rd of November, the countess, finding that she could not rely upon the fidelity of her soldiers, surrendered
the castles of Rushen and Peel, and soon afterwards she left the Island. In December, William Christian and his
brother John, the Deemster, who were described in the Journals of the House of Commons as "two of the ablest and
honest gentlemen in the Island" , were summoned to London to be consulted about the Manx Laws and other matters.
He was continued in his office of receiver under Lord Fairfax, and, between 1656 and 1658, he also held the office of
governor. In the latter year, James Chaloner, who had then been appointed governor, ordered his arrest on the charge
of having misappropriated the revenues of the sequestrated bishopric, which Fairfax intended to be used for the
support of the Grammar Schools, and for the augmentation of the stipends of the poor clergy. The accusation does not
seem to have been proved, and William Christian, through his son George, produced statements showing the
substantial accuracy of his accounts. However, it is curious that he should have fled to England without attempting to
defend himself personally..

It is not known where he spent the interval years between 1658 and 1660. In the latter year he went to London with
many others to have a sight of the King. His visit however was an unfortunate one, for he was arrested for a debt of
£20,000, and put into the Fleet prison, where he was kept for nearly a year until he was able to find bail. Some
months after his release, being assured that the 'Act of Indemnity' secured him against all the legal consequences of
his political actions, he rashly returned to the Isle of Man. His advisors forgot that his offences were not against the
Crown, but against the Lord of Man, who, in September 1662 issued a mandate to his officers to proceed against him
&34;for all his illegal actions and rebellions" in 1651, or before that year. He was thereupon imprisoned in Castle

At the trial which followed, William Christian refused to plea. This was a fatal mistake, because he thereby subjected
himself to the same judgement as if he had pleaded guilty, or had been found guilty by a jury. In consequence of this,
no evidence was taken on his behalf, so that he was virtually condemned without a trial. His sentence was to be
"hanged, drawn and quartered", but this was commuted by an order of the deputy-governor that he be "shot to death".
This was accordingly carried out on the 2nd January 1663. An entry relating to his execution in the Parish Register of
Malew states that "he died most penitently and most curragiously, made a good end, preyed earnestly, made a good
speech, and next day was buried in the chancel of Kirk Malew".

According to his dying speech he protested against the charge of treason brought against him by "a prompted and
threatened jury, a pretended Court of Justice, of which the greater part were by no means qualified". He appealed to
those present to bear witness how unjust the accusation against him was, and he declared that "the rising of the
people" in which he had engaged, "did not at all, or in the least degree, intend the prejudice or ruin of the Derby
family". During William Christian's imprisonment in Castle Rushen, he had addressed a petition to the King and
Council, pleading that the proceedings taken against him by the Earl of Derby were a violation of the Act of
Indemnity, and praying that his case might be heard before them, but it did not reach London until a week after his

In ignorance of this event, orders were sent to Lord Derby to produce his prisoner. Illiam Dhone's sons, George and
Ewan, presented petitions for redress, and , after some delay, the earl, the deemsters, and three other members of 'the
pretended court of justice' were brought before the King in Council, who decided that "the Act of General Pardon and
Indemnity did and ought to be understood to extend to the Isle of Man".

William Christian has been variously represented as a perjured traitor, or as the patriotic victim of a judicial murder,
according to the sympathies of the writer. Whatever his faults, William Christian undoubtedly suffered for the part he
took in endeavoring to protect his country men's laws and liberties. It is this that has enlisted their sympathies in his
favour, while the plaintive ballad Baase Illiam Dhone "Brown William's Death" has invested his memory with the
halo of a martyr.


LaDoris Weber
Burke's Landed Gentry
Christian Family Chronicles, January 1979
Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 15th edition, vol 2, page 898


Final Speech of Iliam Dhone

(source unknown)

Gentleman, and the rest of you who have accompanied me this day to the gate of death, I know you expect I should say
something at my departure; and indeed I am in some measure willing to satisfy you, having not had the least libery, since
my imprisonment, to acquaint any with the sadness of my sufferings, which flesh and blood could not have endured
without the power and assistance of my most gracious and good God, into whose hands I do now commit my poor soul,
not doubting but that I shall very quickly be in the arms of His mercy.

I am, as you now see, hurried hither by the power of a pretended court justice, the members whereof, as at least the
greatest part of them, are by no means qualified, but very ill befitting their new places. The reasons you may give

The cause for which I am brought hither, as the prompted and threatened jury has delivered, is high treason against the
Countess Dowager of Derby; for that I did, as they say, in the year fifty-one, raise a force against her for the suppressing
and rooting out that family. How unjust the accusation is, very few of you that hear me this day but can witness, and that
the then rising of the people, in which afterwards I came to be engaged, did not at all, or in the least degree, intend the
prejudice or ruin of that family; the chief whereof being, as you well remember, dead eight days, for thereabout, before
that action happened. But the true cause of that rising, as the jury did twice bring in, was to present grievances to our
honorable lady; which was done by me, and afterwards approved by her ladyship, under the hand of her since secretary,
M. Trevach, who is yet living, which agreement hath send, to my own ruin and my poor family's endless sorrow, been
forced from me. The Lord God forgive them the injustice of their dealings with me, and I wish from my heart it may not
be laid to their charge another day!

You now see me here a sacrifice ready to be offered for that which was the preservation of your lives and fortunes,
which was then in hazard, but that I stood between you and your (then all appearance) utter ruin. I wish is still may, as
hitherto, enjoy the sweet benefit and blessing of peace, though from that minute until now I have still been prosecuted
and persecuted, nor had I ever since found a place to rest myself in. The my God be forever blessed and praised, who
hath as given me so large a measure of patience!

What services I have done for that noble family, by whose power I am now to take my latest breath, I dare appeal to
themselves, whether I have not deserved better things from them then the sentence of my bodily destruction, and seizure
of the poor estate of my son ought to enjoy, being purchased and left him by his grandfather. It might have been much
better had I not spent it in the service of my honorable Lord of Derby and his family; these things I need not mention to
you, for that most of you are witnesses to it. I shall now beg your patience while I tell you here, in the presence of God,
that I never in all my life acted anything with intention to prejudice my sovereign Lord the King, nor the late Earl of
Derby, nor the next earl; yet not withstanding, being in England at the time of his sacred Majesty's happy restoration, I
went to London, with many others, to have a sight of my gracious King, whom God preserve, and whom, until then, I
never had seen. But I was not long there when I was arrested upon an action of twenty thousand pounds, and clapped up
in the Fleet; unto which action I, being a stranger, could give no bail, but was there kept nearly a whole year. How I
suffered, God He knows; but at last, having gained my liberty, I thought good to advise with several gentlemen
concerning his majesty's gracious Act of Idemnity that was then set forth, in which I thought myself concerned; unto
which they told me there was no doubt to be made but that all actions committed in the Isle of Man, relating in any kind to
the war, were pardoned by the Act of Indemnity, and all other places within his Majesty's dominion and countries.
Whereupon, and having been forced to absent myself from my poor wife and children near three years, being under
persecution, I did with great content and satisfaction return into this island, hoping then to receive the comfort and sweet
enjoyment of my friends and poor family. But, alas! I have fallen into the snare of the fowler; but my God shall ever be
praised; though He kill me, yet will I trust in Him.


Ballad of Iliam Dhone

Please note that I have obviously not finished typing this

(source unknown, English translation from Manx, anyone have the Manx original?)

In so shifting a scene, who would confidence place
In family, youth, power, or personal grace?
No character's proof against enemy foul;
And thy fate, Iliam Dhone, sickens my soul.

You are Derby's receiver of patriot zeal,
Replete with good sense, and reputed genteel,
Your justice applauded by the young and the old;
And thy fate, Iliam Dhone, sickens my soul.
Birth10 Jan 1610, Great Harwood, Lancashire, England
Death19 Nov 1665, Isle of Man, England
ChildrenThomas (~1636-1700)
Last Modified 17 Mar 2000Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh